We booked our flight from Germany to Indonesia with Etihad and had a 9 hour stopover in Abu Dhabi (map). Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and after Dubai the second famous city of the region. Abu Dhabi has a population of 1.5 million citizens and lies in the middle of the desert. During our European summer 50 degrees during the day and nearly 40 degrees during the night are nothing unusual.
Before we started our trip to Indonesia we tried to find information on a stopover in Abu Dhabi. Even if we had only a couple of hours, we decided to rather explore an unknown city than to stay at a typical international airport. We read a couple of reports online about stopovers in Abu Dhabi. Most said that it would take a lot of energy and time and that it is not worth it for just a couple of hours. We decided not to decide anything. We thought that the best idea would probably be to just ask the Etihad staff of our flight. The answer of our flight attendant was ‘It is very uncomplicated and doesn’t take a lot of time’. So there we had our decision. And it was really that easy. As a EU citizen they will quickly take a picture of you, put a stamp in your passport and you receive a 90 day visa. It probably takes 10 min. You will also find tourist information desks that can help you to plan your trip and the amount of money you will need. We only took taxis and visited the grand mosque and the city centre. In total we paid 50€ for two persons and for 4 taxi rides (in total 2 hours).
The grand mosque is about 25 min. away from the airport and definitely worth a visit. We arrived there at around 10 pm and it was still open. Before you enter the grand mosque you will first have to go through a security check (deprecated for male and female customs). You shouldn’t bring any form of alcohol (spirit or perfume). After the security check you will need to dress in a proper way. That means a ‘Tachador’ for women (we don’t know the correct term) and long trousers/ long sleeves for men or traditional white clothes. The entrance and the rent of the traditional clothes are for free. We really enjoyed this mosque. It is very impressive and colourful. Eventhough some parts are a bit cheesy. The main building has several air conditionings. At around 40 degrees this doesn’t fit to an ecological lifestyle, but just feels great!
After visiting the grand mosque we decided to have a look at the centre and the skyline of Abu Dhabi – close to the ocean. As we usually enjoy to explore a city just by walking and to spontaneously decide where to go, we told the taxi driver to just drop us somewhere near the water. Definitely a huge mistake. It is just too hot! Doesn’t matter if it is during the day or night. You won’t see anyone walking around. And probably we were a bit of an attraction to the locals in their huge black or white SUVs. We are not really into shopping malls or hotel bars in skyscrapers and therefore stopped our ‘desert tour’ after about an hour and went back to the airport.
As we only spent a couple of hours in Abu Dhabi it is hard to write a feedback regarding this city. We definitely liked the grand mosque and would recommend this to everyone who has a couple of hours in Abu Dhabi. It is easy to get a visa, doesn’t take long to get there and it is for free (beside the taxi ride – 25€ return). In general we experienced Abu Dhabi to be totally different to Indonesia. In both countries most citizens are Muslims, but the way they interpret their religion is totally different. In Abu Dhabi we saw a lot of women dressed in black and with Burkas. And maybe it was only our impression but Abu Dhabi felt more conservative and restricted than Indonesia. It was definitely worth using this stopover to experience the way of living in Abu Dhabi and to see their culture.